Searching for a Job in the US

‘Looking for a job is not easy, especially for international students. You have to convince your potential employer that you can do the job better than a US citizen and are worth the employer’s effort to take care of your immigration documents. The term: ‘looking for a job is a full time job itself’ is indeed true.

International students only have one year OPT – Optional Practical Training (see immigration section) to look for a job or to work legally in the US after graduation. Therefore you should start the job hunting as early as possible. Many international students start the process as early as one year before graduation.

Related Links
  Looking for a Job
  Resume (CV)
  Cover Letter
  Job Offer / Rejection
  Salary Negotiations

Where can I find information about job opening?

Campus Career Center

Your campus’ Career Center is a good place to start. Career Center provides various services such as critiquing and improving your resume and cover letter, conducting mock interviews and publishing your resume in their database. It also helps matching your profile with the employer’s need. If the career center finds that your profile matches the job requisition from the employer, it will contact the employer, so they can arrange an interview with you.

Do not forget to post your resume on your career center’s website, and check the job opening in the website every so often.

Campus Career Fair

Most US colleges / universities are having career fair two or three times a year; some are having more than that. Big colleges / universities are having the career fair for each academic department. That way, both the students and the employers are more concentrated or more focus.
The benefit of attending a career fair is that you have the opportunity to meet with your potential employer. You can make a good impression, ask question, and give your resume directly to the employer. If you are lucky, you might get an interview offer at the career fair itself.


If you believe that your professors have a good impression on you, and you maintain a good relationship with him / her, don’t hesitate to approach your professor when you are looking for a job. Your professor might know somebody in the industry that has a job opening.
The benefit of this approach is that your professor automatically gives you recommendation to the potential employer, and it will create a good first impression on you.

Companies where you had internships with

If you enjoy your internship experience, you might want to contact your previous employers and see if they have a full-time job opening. The benefit of this approach is that the employer already knows you and you already know the employer. In another word, you already build a networking with your potential employer. You can bypass the human resource and directly contact your potential manager. That way, your chance of getting the job is bigger.

On-line Job Search Engine

Using on-line job search engines is the most common way to look for a job here in the US. There are many dot com companies provide this service. Please have a look at our useful link to find some job search engines.
You can post your resume in these websites to let the employer finds you. However, you have an option to submit your resume and also your cover letter in each of the job opening. It is advisable for you to do so because it will increase the chance that the employer will read your resume.
These job search engine websites will transfer your resume, your cover letter, and your other personal data to the employer. If the employer likes your profile, they will arrange an interview with you.

Company’s website

If you are interested to work in a particular company, you can directly go to the company’s website, and find the link to the career section. In the career section, you will see if the company has job openings that correspond with your profile. If so, you can apply directly from that website.
Your application will be filtered by the human resource department before it goes to the user (potential manager). If it passed the human resource’s screening, the human resource will contact the potential manager. If the potential manager likes your profile, he / she will ask the human resource to arrange an interview with you.

Job hunter

Job hunter is an individual or a company which sole purpose is helping an employer to find an employee and helping you to find a job. Normally, a job hunter will get a commission from the employer. Therefore, you don’t have to pay to use its service. However, you should confirm it with the job hunter to make sure that you don’t need to pay.


Consultant is also an individual or a company that help you to find a job. Other than only helping you to find a job, some consultants offer other services, such as improving your resume or providing you training, which is more relevant to the job. Unlike in the case of job hunter, normally you need to pay a consultant for its services. Some consultants charge you a one-time pay in advance, some others charge you a percentage of your pay for a certain period of time. You should make clear of this payment term with your consultant if you hire one.

Family / Friends

You should not forget your family or friends when you are looking for a job. They are your closest “ally”, and sometime they offer you more help than any other sources explained above. If you have a family or friend who is currently working or even the retired ones, you can ask their help to inform you if there is an opening in his / her company. You can also ask if they could forward your resume to the respective manager. If they know your educational or working experience, most likely they will say good things about you in front of the manager, and it will create a good impression on you.


What documents should I prepare when I am looking for a job?

There are four main documents that you need to prepare when you are searching for a job in the US are:

  • EAD (Employment Authorization Document): If your application for OPT (Optional Practical Training) is approved by the USCIS, they will issue you a card (driver license size), which is called an EAD card. You are only authorized to work from the effective date until the expiration date stated on your EAD card. You should show this card to your employer to prove that you can legally work in the US for that period of time.
    Before your EAD card is expired, you should get another work authorization, e.g. H-1 status
  • Recommendation Letters (if applicable): Having recommendation letters in hand may come in handy when you need to show it to your potential employer. However, not all employers need one. Some of them prefer calling your references rather than reading the recommendation letter. If that’s the case, be sure keep the contact numbers of your references with you and inform them in advance that your potential employer might call.


Do you have some tips in looking for a job?

  • Write a nice resume and cover letter that portray your experience well, but don’t lie on it. Make sure that you include your important working or educational experience. In the cover letter, write how interested you are in filling the position and working for the company, and that you are the right person for the job.
  • Networking is very important, build and maintain a good relationship with your professor and faculty. They can help you either to refer you to a particular company or to give you a nice recommendation letter.
  • Try to ask question, show interest, and build a good relationship with guest speakers from companies, which you would like to work for.
  • Build and maintain a good relationship with your friends or families. Once they are on the job, they will be good ‘internal’ sources for you when you look for a job at their companies. They can help you forward your resume, introduce you to a hiring manager, or even give you a nice recommendation.
  • You can utilize your summer to do an internship. Internship is relatively easier to get than a full time job. During the internship, try to impress your employer with your job. A good impression during your internship will give you a huge advantage when you look for a full time job in the same company.
  • Post your resume on as many job search websites as possible. You should realize that there are thousands of students looking for a job through job search websites. In order to make sure that your resume appears on the top, you should up-date it often by re-submitting it every so often .
  • When you attend a career fair, make sure that you have your schedule with you, in case you get an interview offer at that time. Make sure that you are free on the interview date. Canceling an interview creates a very bad impression on you.
  • As an international student, whenever you submit your profile on-line most likely you will be asked if you have work authorization to work legally in the US without sponsorship. Remember that under the OPT status you can work legally for one year without sponsorship, so don’t hesitate to put “yes” in there. You can explain your situation in more detail when you are having your interview.



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